Article by CBC News
The Ontario Provincial Police raided cannabis shops on the edge of Oneida Nation of the Thames territory without authorization from the chief and council. This led to a protest by store owners that has forced politicians and administrative staff from their offices.
The cannabis stores are located at 6355 Carriage Road in Middlesex Centre and not on Oneida Nation territory, but are on a piece of land owned by an Oneida holding company, said Chief Jessica Hill, who was forced from her office yesterday when a group of young men came in while she and a number of others were discussing upcoming elections.
“We heard a loud commotion and yelling and screaming at the door. These young men came in, and it was like mayhem. They came into our offices, they threatened us and bullied us and spoke to us disrespectfully, and forced us out,” Hill said.
“These are young men; I really feel sorry for them. They’re being led down a path of easy money and belief that they can do whatever they want to the detriment of our community.”
OPP put out a statement yesterday saying the raids on the cannabis shops were done at the request of Oneida Nation of the Thames, but Hill says that is not true.
“We did not call police the OPP nor were we informed that this would be taking place,” Oneida Nation of the Thames chief and council wrote in a media statement.
Hill says the Oneida nation has no jurisdiction over the businesses on that piece of property because it is in Middlesex Centre. The cannabis businesses don’t pay rent to the Oneida holding company that owns the land.
Stores not authorized by Oneida
The chief and council did send a memo to the cannabis stores on May 13, asking them to close on May 17, but that was not followed.
“We told them, you are not authorized to be here, you’re unregulated, please close for the safety of your own community,” Hill said. “They didn’t close.”
The memo was also forwarded to Middlesex Centre, she said.
Cannabis retailers within Oneida have complied with the chief and council’s request and have shut down because of COVID-19.
Contacted by CBC News, an OPP spokesperson said he had no further information about the situation. The police statement did not say how many people were arrested or whether they were in or out of custody.
In a social media post, Joel Abrams, chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, said his car was surrounded by the young men who were angry about the cannabis stores being shut down.
Hill says the men continue to occupy the administration building.
“Was this scary? I’ve lived a long life, I’m 71 years old, and I’ve lived through a lot of different conflicts,” she said. “I was born and raised here, and I never believed that as a chief, I would have to have security at my house, that I would have to resort to having to protect myself. But I’ve been through scarier things.”